Thursday, June 26, 2008


More of the usual news reports today. The stock market is down, the price of gas is up. It is predicted that oil will be up to $170 a barrel by the end of summer, from a high of $140 today, which means that soon we may be paying seven to ten bucks a gallon for gas.

Of course, when questioned, the oil folks say they are investing much of their huge profits into research and development. Since we haven't built a new refinery in years, that development must be in other countries. They also explain that the demand for fuel is up in countries like China and India, helping to drive up prices here. There is also the problem of speculators, who are making a fortune investing in oil.

So, in other words, China and India are buying more cars, building more industries, using more fuel. They are able to do this because of the boatloads of merchandise arriving in our harbors. Our companies, eager for cheap labor, have deserted the United States to relocate in countries like India and China, enabling those citizens to buy more car and use more fuel from the profits of the merchandise they are selling to us.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

As we struggle with Unemployment and the lack of Health Care, along with a myriad of other problems, we are funding the expansion and development of other countries and paying for gas that is about ten times more expensive than it used to be. How nice for them! They will end up with our employers, our technology, any expertise we may have had. We will end up working in any jobs available at salaries that can't pay American expenses while our country's comfort is on a fast boat to China.

A Republican Bush loyalist I talked to recently pointed out that the poor people in America are still far richer than the poor people in Third World countries.

I beg to differ with that theory. I have visited a Third World country and their poor people are not half as poor as we are becoming. Why? They live in windowless shacks, but they do not have property taxes. They tether a few goats in the yard. If we tethered goats, we would get a visit from a local official who would say, "Either get rid of the goats within two days or pay a fine!"

They can live off the bounty of the ocean. Most of us do not even live on a lake. In order to fish, we have to have a fishing license, with a limit on the fish we can catch. If we are very, very hungry and very, very broke, as a friend of mine was, and you are caught by a game warden with more than your share, as a friend of mine was, you are fined up to $500 plus the gas it will take you to get to court. In his case, it took three trips to court, what with postponements and other delays.

You see a few curs running in the yards of the huts in the Third World. These curs...and I will call them that because they are usually not on the remains of the family dinners. They do not require dog licenses, rabies shots, flea medication or any of the expensive items we pay for our dogs. Nor are they spayed or neutered, which saves them a couple of hundred bucks or more that we are encouraged to pay. There is no dog pound that I could see, the dogs wandered freely through the brush and fields. If our dogs did this, they would end up in the pound and it would take another couple of hundred bucks to retrieve them.

The shacks these people live in are deplorable, as far as aesthetic detail goes. Sometimes the windows are missing entirely, because the climate is usually warm. Now, if we lived in a windowless shack, our home would be declared unfit to live in. We would be ordered to leave the premises immediately and, if we resisted, our belongings would be placed on the curbside and left to the elements, then trashed.

Here, we pay sewer bills. In the Third World, they do not. If you visit the towns, they often have sewage running in a ditch along the walkway. One man I saw had to urinate and simply pulled down his pants and proceeded to do so in the sewage ditch as the pedestrians weaved their way around him.

Americans are poorer than other civilizations because we are nickel and dimed into poverty by our local ordinances and our laws, some of them sensible, some of them foolish. When salaries in the United States are reduced to two or three hundred a week, it is impossible for a family to buy food as well as pay the rent or mortgage, license the car, insure it, and keep it in gas. If the reduction to poverty of United States citizens continues on its current level, if rents do not go down, if some of the licensing and payment procedures are not reduced, there will be more and more Homeless living under viaducts or parked in rest areas along the roads.

Our local governments, despite the Housing Crisis, despite the fact that each block has several vacant homes, pulling prices of all the homes down, continues to levy the same amount in taxes, thus ensuring that those fortunate enough to keep their homes will struggle to pay their property taxes. If the value of homes has fallen 15%, as news reports claim, why do property taxes not automatically be reduced by this amount? It only makes sense.

After living in America and being reduced to poverty by inflation and recession, one begins to envy the Third World citizen eating bananas, bread fruit and fish, free from local governmental ordinances, able to live without the continual nipping and bitting at the heels that our local governments do. Poorer than Americans? Surely you jest! A life free of Water Bills, Sewer Bills, Electric Bills, Fuel Bills, Car Insurance Bills, Car Payments, House Payments, House Insurance Bills, Tax Payments, Car Licenses, Health Insurance Bills, Dog Licenses, Rabies Shots, and all of the other niggardly payments that are like mosquitoes nipping at our bodies and sucking up our blood doesn't sound bad at all!